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I WANT TO STAY IN THE UK

I studied Engineering at Shanghai University in China, I finished my bachelor’s degree in 2013, after that I went into marketing at a Chinese airline. I went to Kaplan in London to do my pre-master’s course before I started my master's in Investment Management at Cranfield. The pre-master’s course really prepared me for this master’s degree. Some of the modules, like statistics and mathematics really helped me a lot. I chose Cranfield and Kaplan at the same time. Cranfield is a really good university and I wanted to live in London for a short time, I wanted to feel the culture of a big city. So the combination – seven to eight months in London and one year in Cranfield - is really attractive.

When I finished my bachelor's degree, I didn’t know what I was interested in, but with two and half years work experience I realised that I’m interested in finance and I want to get a master’s degree in that. With my education background, it was difficult to get on to a master’s degree because I didn’t have anything related to finance and my English was really bad, so Kaplan gave me an opportunity and helped me improve a lot, mostly in academic skills. After two terms I thought, yes I’m really prepared now, and it’s not that difficult for me here at Cranfield.

My first impression of Cranfield compared to London was that I thought I’d come to a different country. It’s completely different from London. But after one or two weeks here I really feel peaceful and I can really concentrate on the course. In London of course there are a lot of good places to go and I can have a really good time with my friends. But here I can really focus on my master’s.

Travelling
My time here in the UK has been fantastic; there are a lot of opportunities here compared to in China. I've managed to see a little bit of the UK while I've been here. My friends and I rented a car and drove from London to Scotland and the Isle of Skye for six days. 
One day we started in Edinburgh at 7am and we went to the Isle of Skye, the Highlands and ended in Glasgow at midnight. We realised we should have stayed one night in the Highlands – but we looked on Google maps and it said you could finish this journey in nine hours. I drove thirteen hours that day, it was a bit dangerous. But it was really beautiful, all the lakes. It’s a different beauty than in China, there are less people – it’s like a picture you could see on your calendar, really, really beautiful.

Also I went skydiving in Bunbury – about one hour from London Marylebone by train. I took a six hour course with two instructors and I learned to freefall for 15-20 seconds and opened my parachute at 6,000 feet. We took a plane and we flew above the clouds and I thought this is really exciting, this will be a great story. But after I opened my parachute I realised I couldn’t see my landing field. And there is a radio, but I couldn’t hear them properly – my instructor was trying to tell me to turn left, but all I could hear was “Taoyi, turn …” and it cut out. I was surprised how fast it was, in the movies it doesn’t seem so fast. The first time I landed ok, but the second and third time I landed on my bum! For a qualification I’d have to do it 18 times, but it’s really expensive £2-300 each time, so I don’t think I’ll get my certificate.

Accommodation
I live in couple’s accommodation – I met my girlfriend at Kaplan, she was doing a foundation year there and she went to Birmingham University to study Economics, and at the weekend she comes to visit me or I go to see her.

Going for a PhD
I want to stay in the UK. I’d like to get a PhD and become a lecturer here. I’m hoping to do my PhD in Corporate Finance. I would like to stay in the academic environment, it is quite simple, I think there are more barriers in industry. I’d like to enjoy the balance.

Do you have any advice for students considering postgraduate study?

- We approach knowledge in different ways here compared to China. Not only politics and other daily life, I think here, people are more focused on living. They have a better balance between work and life. In China maybe there are too many people and the level of competition is quite harsh. Like me, I tended to focus on work– I didn’t care about my salary or how much overtime I was doing, as long as I had my job I thought I’m OK. Here, people feel satisfied. Of course there are some problems here, like Brexit for example. But there’s a better work-life balance.

Taoyi   Zhang

Cranfield University